Melanie Taylor has spent her entire career working for a nonprofit mental health provider. She currently works as the CEO of the Burke Center, which provides an array of community services to people with mental health issues, intellectual disabilities, and substance use concerns. Taylor attended Texas A&M University for a brief period as an undergraduate and returned to the University to pursue the Executive Master of Public Service and Administration (EMPSA) program through the Bush School as an adult. She said pursuing the EMPSA program was the ideal way to simultaneously enhance her education and check off her bucket list item of securing an Aggie Ring.
When she began the EMPSA program at the Bush School, Taylor was serving as the Burke Center’s Chief Administrative Officer and was chosen as the Deputy CEO during her time in the program. She was then selected as the fulltime CEO and credits her studies in the EMPSA program for enhancing her resume and preparing her for that role. One of the challenges she has faced in her new position has been attempting to navigate the COVID pandemic. Despite the difficulties of trying to serve the public during a pandemic, she feels rewarded by the fact that the Burke Center’s board and staff truly believe in the mission and have demonstrated a deep caring for each other and their consumers. The compassion shown has created a culture willing to do what is necessary to ensure that work is accomplished.
When asked about advice for current students, Taylor tells them not to give up. She said there were times when work, home life, and school seemed overwhelming, but the internal sense of accomplishment she felt putting on an Aggie Ring and hanging up her EMPSA degree in her office made it worthwhile. She struggled to pick just one faculty member or staff at the Bush School who stood out to her because throughout her time in the program she had never felt so welcomed nor experienced such an overall sense of purpose and dedication to honor President Bush’s passion for public service. Taylor chose a career in public service because she believes that we have a civil, moral, and ethical obligation to help others in need who do not have the resources or other abilities to access basic necessities that most of us take for granted. This belief drove her to the Bush School and has been the force behind her extensive career serving the public.